Every morning, I take a run down South Temple and give the steps at the Masonic Temple a few good up- downs before heading into the office (which, incidentally, happens to be directly across the street). On a morning run recently, I noticed a crumpled up Twix wrapper sitting at the foot of the stairs, and everyday for the next week, it was all I could focus on as I ran up and down. What kind of person leaves a Twix wrapper on the sidewalk? And around day five it dawned on me: I’m leaving a Twix wrapper on the sidewalk. Here I was, griping that some people have no pride in their city. And here I was stepping right over it. I had left it there the better part of a week, wholeheartedly expecting someone else to take care of it. So I bent over and picked it up. And I felt immensely better.
And then I was reminded of something I read from Confucius about propriety and taking ownership for oneself. I’m paraphrasing (obviously), but he said something along the lines of “a ruler who lacks ownership for himself is not fit to be a citizen.” In other words, if you’re not fully committed to the betterment of your city, you’re definitely not fit to govern it. This got me thinking about the ownership that we take for ourselves as citizens of our own city. You can’t just wait for somebody else to do it, you have to be the change you wish to see in your neighborhood. When I realized I wanted a place that helped folks find the perfect home, sell the one they’re ready to move on from, and surround themselves in stellar design that also advocated immensely for Salt Lake City, I didn’t sit around waiting for somebody else to create it (uh, it’s called cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, and we’re changing the world).
The truth is, our relationship with the city in which we live is like any other relationship—it can be beautiful or it can be abusive, but it’s best when it’s mutually beneficial. It’s like in Sex and the City (yes, I'm making the comparison…leave me alone, it was a good effing show!). The main character, really, was the city, right? Sure, the central theme explores the ups and [tragic] downs of Carrie Bradshaw’s failed relationships, but her most healthy relationship—through all seasons—is the one with New York City. She loves it unconditionally and in return it gives her decades of happiness.
A city radiates with the energy that’s put into it, so think about what you’re putting into ours. If you’re not stoked on SLC, then move on! No hard feelings, honest. Find somewhere that you want to commit to having a long, healthy relationship with and settle in. Wherever you are—9th & 9th, the Aves, Draper, Tooele—rep it! Give your surroundings your best self and see what comes back to you. Ask not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city. Just show up with your whole self and make it rad. It’s a little selfish, really—you’re making it what it needs to be to make you happy...and by doing that, you’re actually making the whole place just that much better. You want a community garden in your neighborhood? Knock on some doors and start one. Choking on the inversion year after year? Stop talking about it and do something: ride TRAX, ride the FrontRunner, use GREENbike (something we could all do a little more tenaciously, I think). Let’s commit to being good to Salt Lake and find out just how good she can be to us. (Click on a few of the photos below for a touch of inspiration.) Let’s make SLC the city we want it to be in a healthy, thriving relationship...one picked-up Twix wrapper at a time.